ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Know Your Asthma Triggers
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Pain-Relieving Powers of Acupuncture Unclear
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Quit Smoking the Holistic Way
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Improved Hip Implants Can Last 20 Years
Soccer's a Winner for Building Bone Health in Girls
Childhood Dairy Intake Boosts Bone Health Later On
CANCER
Lifting Weights Can Ease Arm Swelling in Breast Cancer Survivors
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
Gene Studies Reveal Cancer's Secrets
CAREGIVING
Caregivers Face Multiple Strains Tending Older Parents
Coordination Has Led to Quicker Heart Treatment
More Than 60,000 Patients Risked Hepatitis Infections
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Grapefruit-Heavy Diet Helped Spur Dangerous Clot
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
Firefighters Have Narrower-Than-Normal Arteries, Study Finds
COSMETIC
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Dental Implants Need More Work Than Root Canals
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
Gum Disease May Reactivate AIDS Virus
DIABETES
Older Diabetics With Depression Face Higher Death Rate
Lifestyle Factors Tied to Older Adults' Diabetes Risk
Study Shows Turmeric May Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Purple Tomato Extended Lives of Cancer-Prone Mice
Uncover Why Turmeric Helps You Heal
Brown Rice Tied to Better Heart Health in Study
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Chemicals in Carpets, Non-Stick Pans Tied to Thyroid Disease
Sunken, Unexploded Bombs Pose Cancer Risk
Gene Explains How High-Fructose Diets Lead to Insulin Resistance
EYE CARE, VISION
Diabetic Eye Disease Rates Soaring
Antioxidant-Rich Diet May Protect Against Eye Disease
Autistic Children Make Limited Eye Contact
FITNESS
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Barefoot Best for Running?
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
GENERAL HEALTH
Pesticides and How to Affordably Eat Organic or Reduce Pesticide Consumption
Eating Lots Of Vegetables, Olive Oil May Extend Life
Good Sleepers More Likely to Eat Right
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Soy Protein Doesn't Lower Cholesterol
Coffee Is Generally Heart-Friendly
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Teens Lose More Weight Using Healthy Strategies
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
Childhood Dairy Intake Boosts Bone Health Later On
MEN'S HEALTH
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
17 Ways to Create the Perfect Workday
Psychotherapy Can Boost Happiness More Than Money
Green Spaces Boost the Body and the Mind
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
Calcium Supplements Cut Blood Lead Levels During Pregnancy
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
SENIORS
Want Better Health in the New Year, Add Exercise to Your Day
Protein Deposits May Show Up Before Memory Problems Occur, Study Says
Older People at Greater Risk of Swine Flu Death
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Iodine in Prenatal Vitamins Varies Widely
Lifting Weights Can Ease Arm Swelling in Breast Cancer Survivors
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
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Eating Free Range

Reflecting back on a trip to Puerto Rico, I am still intrigued by the variety of beliefs surrounding meat or animal product consumption. I remember touring my friend's family farm, where I learned first-hand about the traditional “pasture to plate” process. Being a vegetarian, I was at least comforted by the fact that the animals lived a "happy" life despite their destiny. When one of my hosts offered me a piece of fresh beef at dinner, it was quite an interesting conversation to explain my non-meat eating ways without seeming disrespectful. I could tell he had trouble understanding the concept that meat simply did not work well with my body.

Have you ever wrestled with the quandary of whether you should eat animal products? No wonder – we are bombarded with so much confusing and sometimes contradictory information regarding the pros and cons. This can be examined in two contexts: the micro-level of your own bio-individuality and the macro-level of supporting humane sustainability in the world.

When you explore your body’s protein needs from animal products, you should first consider your own bio-individuality. This refers to our genetically determined and unique nutritional requirements. I like to think that our bodies know best. Applying bio-individuality involves experimenting with different quality animal products and then listening to your body’s inner wisdom about how it feels. Various factors such as personal taste and preference, natural shape and size, blood type, metabolic rate, and genetic factors play a role in determining how much and what type of protein source will truly nourish you. Some people crave and thrive off animal products, while others feel not so good. It is up to you then, to discover what works best for your body.

In addition, the source (sustainable farms versus industrial farms) directly impacts the environment, the economy, and our social and spiritual health. Sustainable farming is a method to produce food that respects and supports the environment and local communities. These methods preserve green space, provide habitat for wildlife, and stimulate the local economy. The products are also healthier because of higher levels of “good” fats and nutrients in animals that are fed a traditional grass diet, allowed to roam freely outdoors, and have normal social interactions. Industrial farming is a large-scale method to maximize food production and profits. These methods involve the heavy use of hormones and antibiotics, unsanitary and inhumane confinement of animals, pollution, and large fossil fuel requirements. Animals are seen as commodities versus living, breathing beings. When you eat industrial-farmed animals, not only do you eat the physical toxins (hormones, antibiotics, and pesticide residues), but also the metaphysical toxins (fear, despair, and horror). This can certainly affect your social and spiritual health.

Industrial farming is often justified as a means to serve the food demands of our increasing population and may seem more cost effective in the short-term. But the hidden economic, environmental, and health costs in the longer term are often not factored in. For example, sustainable foods bought locally, minimize fuel to transport the product and serve to support local farmers and economies. Industrial farming methods lead to the destruction and depletion of our environment by deforestation for more fields to grow grain-based animal feed, contamination of our water supply from animal waste, and being the largest contributor to greenhouse gases. These methods are also linked to alarming health concerns such as increasing rates of precocious puberty, infertility, and the emergence of more antibiotic-resistant disease.

Once we slowly allow ourselves to become aware of the current state, we become empowered rather than helpless; informed rather than ignorant. We can make more conscious choices regarding the quality and quantity of our animal products. Fortunately, there are standards to help guide our choices. Labels such as organic, free-range, pasture-raised, grass-fed, and certification by the Marine Stewardship Council (for seafood) indicate more humane, and often more nutritious, animal products. Yes, it may cost more at the register and in the short-term, but what will the long-term expense be to our individual health, the economy, and the environment if we continue our current practices?

I like to consider myself a "flexible vegetarian." I have experimented with many stricter forms of eating and have realized that my body enjoys the occasional sliver of chicken or white fish, preferably from sustainable farming methods. As I am learning in my travels, there are many cultural beliefs that influence our dietary choices. Good luck explaining what a vegetarian is to my Latin elders! The best way to decide whether to eat animal products is to experiment consciously without judgment and then observe how your body feels, physically and spiritually. Honor your bio-individuality and remember to read labels to guide your choices. Try products from local farms raised in humane ways and do not be afraid to ask how their animals were treated. What we eat is a reflection of how we feel about ourselves. By nourishing yourself with animal products that were not subjected to unnecessary violence and that support sustainability, you bring more peace into your own life and the world around you.

Dr. Christine Gonzalez is a holistic health coach, pharmacist, and herbalist. She works with clients on how to nourish their bodies and develop a healthy self image. She also lectures and writes on various health-related topics. Contact her at christine@christinegonzalez.com or visit www.christinegonzalez.com for more information on her Nourishing Balanced Energy program.